Soft Apocalypse

Leah Nieboer

Selected by Andrew Zawacki

Title Details

Pages: 106

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 03/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6369-1

List Price: $19.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Georgia and Bruce McEver Fund for the Arts and Environment

Soft Apocalypse

Leah Nieboer

Selected by Andrew Zawacki

Poems that speculate through our dystopic present in search of livable futures

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Soft Apocalypse pirouettes in the “anemic glow” of late capitalism, its prose poems and lyrics performing in the civic pocket, in the offbeat, and by arrhythmias that offer improvisational measures for going on. Chrome angels, strange beloveds, and cool-eyed speakers cut speculative lines through precarious spaces of the present—deserts and nightscapes, neon-lit strips, corner stores, foreclosures, pharmacy queues, and “crumpled back alleys”—making imaginative economies, queer kinships, and alternative ways of being in the world. Nothing here is done with ease, but irreducible gifts do slip surreptitiously from palm to palm: after all, “we all need a little help sometimes / baby.”

Soft Apocalypse insistently edges these unofficial exchanges and intimate apprehensions against the official orders, projections, violations, and isolations of our time. Instead of calculating toward a dystopic ending, this book bets on its softer wrecks, a futurity in an intimately rewired collective.

Dancing inside ‘the discoed light’ of our late, lurid century, Leah Nieboer adroitly imbricates the private and political, minor events with macro catastrophe. At once ascetic and raptured by excess, Soft Apocalypse auditions social, civic, and erotic relationships that aspire to redress the alienations inflicted by capitalism. Set somewhere between Oklahoma and Ophiuchus, this ‘triple-X rock opera’ is scored to an ultraviolet dream stream and an ‘EKG going off.’ Its frayed-wire lyrics, neo-noir prose, and exquisite sequencing are cut with an X-Acto knife, fused with acetylene. Conversing with Lispector, Weil, and other intimate strangers, Nieboer accompanies us toward a future where, if we’re unlikely lucky, ‘a wreck becomes an opening.'

—Andrew Zawacki, author of Unsun: f/11 and Videotape

In Soft Apocalypse we find 'cold little gasps of misinformation;' we find 'mismatched confessionals.' In Leah Nieboer’s spirited poetry, we discover a kaleidoscopic interpretation of the real, an unending disruption to thought constantly turning where anything is possible so that nothing is impossible. It’s a bumpy ride and necessarily so.

—Peter Gizzi, author of Now It's Dark: New Poems

As a poet, process and effort are endlessly engaging for the impossibility we encounter—the task, that is, of writing what it is to be. I don’t know how she did it, really, but Leah Nieboer’s Soft Apocalypse makes distance intimate. Hers is a world simultaneously made and unmade, rendered in dimensions unimaginable. I find I do not want to leave. All around 'language allowing little detours.' Sentence as sentience. Paragraphs approaching but refusing summation, as sound and syntax both complicate and continue to thread the song buried deep underground. An experiment, yes! Nothing cold about it, no! This is 'the heart doing its best.' I will keep this book close to me. You should read these poems to see what I mean.

—Sally Keith, author of River House: Poems

embodies a distinct, cohesive sense of hope and companionship that ties together the vivid, bright pink 'beloveds'—Nieboer’s characters—in her poems.

—Emma Y. Miao, The Harvard Crimson

About the Author/Editor

LEAH NIEBOER grew up in Iowa. She is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Denver, a graduate of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, the winner of the 2022 Mountain West Writers’ Contest in Poetry, and the recipient of a Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellowship. Her writing has appeared in Western Humanities Review, Poetry Daily, Interim: A Journal of Poetry & Poetics, Ghost Proposal, and other publications. She lives in Denver and is at work on her first novel.